Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Buyer Beware

Whether it’s a new or used airplane, don’t rush when doing your prebuy inspection

Champion 7KCAB
The airplane was landing at Alexander City, Ala., with the new owner and another pilot on board. The new owner didn’t have any time in the make and model, so the other occupant was piloting. The airplane had a prebuy inspection conducted two days before the accident, and no problems were found. In addition, the pilot conducted a preflight inspection before the accident flight. The pilot and the owner departed on runway 36 and remained in a left-closed traffic pattern. The pilot made a three-point landing in the first 1,000 feet of the runway, and was on the landing rollout when the tailwheel started to shimmy. He applied forward pressure on the control stick and raised the tailwheel off the runway. The shimmy stopped, and the pilot applied aft pressure on the control stick and lowered the tailwheel onto the runway. The airplane immediately veered to the right. The pilot applied left brake and rudder, but the airplane went off the right side of the runway and into a ditch. The right main landing gear separated and the right wing received structural damage. The occupants were uninjured.

Examination of the airplane revealed the right spring on the tailwheel control had separated from the rudder and the tailwheel attachment. The tailwheel spring was found about 20 feet off the right side of the runway. The previous owner stated that he informed the new owner of the tendency for the tailwheel to shimmy during the three-point landings.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the separation of the right tailwheel spring on landing rollout for undetermined reasons, resulting in a loss of directional control and collision with a ditch.

Cessna T210M
The single-engine Cessna hit power lines and crashed while on approach to the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport in Tulsa, Okla. The commercial pilot was seriously injured, and both passengers received fatal injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The destination was the Adams Field Airport in Little Rock, Ark.

The airplane had been purchased recently from an aircraft broker. The purpose of the flight was for the new owners to take the airplane home to Little Rock. Soon after departure, the pilot reported that the airplane had an electrical problem and needed to return to the airport to land.

The accident pilot later told investigators that he conducted the preflight inspection of the aircraft, noticed no problems, and that all fluid levels were “okay.” He added that after “six to eight minutes into the flight, at approximately 4,000 feet, the entire panel flickered and then went blank.” The pilot cycled the master switch and turned back toward the airport. He reported that he began pumping the gear down manually. He then had the passenger continue to pump the gear into the down position. The pilot said that he had the runway in sight as he turned onto final approach. The pilot added that he never saw the power poles with the wires before impact.

The aircraft had received a prepurchase inspection before the buyer/pilot accepted the aircraft. Several discrepancies were noted, but not the one that investigators said was responsible for the loss of electrical power. An examination at the accident site showed that the main lead wire to the alternator had separated from the alternator. The alternator wire and the insulated terminal end had disconnected with the terminal ring remaining on the alternator. The separated end of the multistrand wire had a “weathered” appearance.


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